Catholic, French teachers resume talks with Ontario government as strike looms

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TORONTO — Bargaining is set to resume today between the Ontario government and two teachers’ unions, just one day before a planned joint strike by all four major teacher groups in the province.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, or OECTA, the French public teachers’ union and the unions representing elementary and secondary school teachers are planning a provincewide strike tomorrow.

OECTA is also planning rotating, one-day strikes starting next week if they can’t make progress toward a new agreement.

Today marks the third day of talks for OECTA since negotiations broke down in early January, while the French teachers’ union has had sporadic bargaining dates over the past few months.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has expressed frustration with the strikes, which he says have adverse impacts on kids and their families.

He’s signalled flexibility on class sizes, one of the most contentious issues in the ongoing negotiations, but the government hasn’t budged on compensation for teachers.

The province announced last spring it would increase average high school class sizes from 22 to 28 and require students to take four e-learning courses to graduate, and Lecce has since offered to increase the average class sizes to 25 and require two online learning courses instead.